Cutting Out The Stress

Taking children to the hairdresser can be as stressful as taking them to the dentist," says Maria Megrelis, owner of the children's hair salon Tchik-Tchik. "That's why we try to provide everything for the kids here."

Inspired by salons in the United States, Tchik-Tchik opened on Nov. 14 on Bolshaya Yakimanka, fitted out with all the equipment and decorations to take the worry out of that haircut trip. Kids can take their choice of chairs: a Hummer, a Barbie jeep or an airplane, and enjoy a DVD or even a video game.

"I have three young kids myself, so I know how stressful something like getting a haircut can be," said Megrelis. "When some kids come in, they are terrified of having their hair cut. But once they see the chairs and we put on a DVD, they stop hating it and start enjoying it."

An American who has lived here for the past 13 years, Megrelis decided last year to search out a niche market to start a business. "A hair salon like this one is just not the sort of thing you find in Moscow," she said. But in New York, where she hails from, this kind of salon with its focus on the needs of the clients is very much the norm.

The idea came to her from her experience with her own children. "I know how frustrating it can sometimes be to cut kids' hair and have always loved going to the specialized kids' hair salons on our trips to the U.S." Her children looked forward to those trips, which made her think that salons in Moscow were missing something.

While not a hairdresser herself, Megrelis described the hairdressing scene in Moscow as a "wide-open market." And she hopes that Tchik-Tchik will fill this gap with its focus on the specific requirements of family customers.

Vladimir Filonov / MT
Every detail is thought of to make the haircut an enjoyable experience: from fun-shaped soaps to DVDs and video games.
Although Tchik-Tchik is described as a Western-style salon, Megrelis was keen to point out that this is not just a place for expats. She hopes that the idea will catch on with Muscovites, too: "Our aim is eventually to have 60% Russian customers."

And the salon is already popular with kids and parents alike, she said. "We only have been open for a couple of months, but we get a lot of business as news spread by word of mouth." There are also a number of walk-in customers who catch sight of the sign and the interior.

The walls are covered with colorful murals by the same artist who painted the rooms of Megrelis' children. "I wanted to create a homey atmosphere," she said. "I want the salon to feel cozy." And every detail is taken care of -- from adjustable seats for the children to tea for the parents.

The salon isn't just for children. "We know that people often don't have time to fit in haircuts," Megrelis said. Which is why Chik-Chik also offers haircuts for adults, allowing busy parents to kill two birds with one stone. There is a separate chair specifically for adults to have their hair cut by one of the three hairdressers employed there.

The recently opened PersonaFamily salon is also looking to tap into the family market. Located in the Mega shopping center at Tyoply Stan, it has a child-friendly interior decorated with soft toys and stylists who have been specially trained in dealing with children at the Persona stylist school. The salon offers haircuts for the whole family, as well as pedicures and makeup. The Expat Salon also offers reduced-rate haircuts for children younger than 12 at its two locations in Moscow.

Chik-Chik, 32 Bolshaya Yakimanka, M. Oktyabryaskaya, 238-3158, open daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m., appointments and walk-ins welcome, all haircuts 800 rubles.

PersonaFamily, "Mega," M. Tyoply Stan, 258-0443, open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m., haircuts from 250 to 750 rubles.

The Expat Salon, 23 Skatertny Pereulok, M. Pushkinskaya, 291-6467 and 3 Maly Patriarshy Pereulok, M. Mayakovskaya, open daily 9 a.m.-9 p.m., children's haircuts cost 850 rubles.